I ask my students what they would do if I gave them 30 minutes of free time. What if I let class out early? How would they spend their time if I gave them recess?
With unexpected minutes given them, they’d drink more coffee. They’d study more for the exam at 10:00 AM. They’d prepare more for a presentation.
A recess refers to a period of time when a person or group is temporarily dismissed from duties. In schools, teachers mandate recess. Children go outside to play, and they do not feel guilty about missing work or losing precious minutes of productivity.
Other cultures regularly foster guilt-free recess moments in the form of a siesta or tea time.
I’m thinking of instituting siesta, high tea, or recess as part of my day because in the absence of a mandated time, I fear American culture resists free time.
Stop everything. Go outside. Relax and just enjoy something. For 30 minutes–without my phone or computer–I have to go play. I might rest on my bed. I might sip a cup of tea. I could even kick a ball around in my driveway.
Once I asked a woman to share with me her top 5 ways to relax and rejuvenate. She couldn’t think of one.
Recently, my children forged a trail through a forest so vibrant with autumn colors it seemed the heavens spilled paint down. I walked with my husband and a neighbor as the sun set through the pine trees with that unmistakable golden light.
The world moved on around us–the hustle and bustle–but out here in the woods, we had recess. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have afternoon tea. Maybe Sunday we’ll take a Sabbath siesta in a homemade fort. Whatever form it takes, I’m ringing the bell to release us out to the playground.
30 minutes of free time built into our day–like a class we have to attend–sounds like rejuvenation: restoring vitality, making us fresh again.